Wednesday, June 15, 2011

From Kudat to Kundasang (March 2011)

There are a few parts in this KK-Kudat-Kundasang series, links to the other entries can be found at the end of this post. 

After visiting the Rungus Longhouse, I made my way to Kundasang, bypassing Kota Belud and taking the KB-Ranau mountain road. Quiet road, very few cars that morning, counted less than 10.


The road seems newly sealed, very smooth. Some very beautiful scenery along the way but weather was rather gloomy. Didn't make a stop in Kota Belud, drove right through. I’d like to visit the famous Kota Belud Pasar Tamu (flea market) one day…

KK-Ranau road was much busier. Lots of cars, many were rentals. Though it was off-peak season I saw lots of other holiday seekers esp. locals and West Malaysians. Made me wonder, did they let their kids ponteng sekolah (play truant, skip school) just to come holiday in Sabah? hmm...


It was raining when I got to Kundasang. A lot of road works going on, my rental was just covered in dirt by the end of my short trip. I remember when I was in Kundasang in 2008, there were already some road construction works going on, really surprised to see that work isn’t done yet. Hopefully the main road is at least sealed by now.

Anyway, main thing I had to do first was look for a place to stay so I drove around keeping an eye out for banners advertising off-peak rates. First one, J-residence RM80; next, Strawberry Garden RM70; then one particular banner caught my eye, Merlin Resort, RM30!

Just had to check that out. The road leading down to the resort grounds is rather steep and uneven so take care! Rather old. Surprised it was still opened for business actually. There are several wooden cabins nested on a hill slope with vegetable gardens down below. There didn’t seem to be anyone else around, very quiet which is just how I like it, so I paid RM30 for a cabin (they also had cabins with water heaters for RM50 but I decided to rough it out so took one without). Was handed two pieces of clean towels, bars of soap and the cabin key. Moved my things in right away. No fuss, no deposit, nothing, terrific!

Watch out for this sign on your right if you’re driving from KK. Merlin Resort is situated on a hill slope overlooking valleys and vegetable gardens.

The interior of my cabin was very basic. A queen-sized bed, clean sheets, rattan chair and table and an attached bath. Floor was a bit damp, no surprise since it’s always so misty up in the mountains.

It started to rain heavily not long after I checked in so I spent the afternoon resting, enjoying the cool mountain air.

Thankfully, the heavy rain lasted only an hour. There was still a light drizzle but I wasn’t going to waste anymore time holed up in my cabin so I drove up to Kinabalu Park and had lunch at the restaurant just opposite the park entrance. I had "Nasi Goreng Special" yang tidak begitu special (“Special Fried Rice” which wasn’t really that special!). Blech. By then, I had not eaten a decent meal for two days... but had to finish it cos I needed the energy before trying some trails in the park.

BTW, don’t know about you guys, but I always find it hard to find good street food when I’m in Sabah. The only thing I really enjoy from the street stalls are the sayap bakar or grilled wings. At about RM1.20-RM1.30 per piece, Sabah’s grilled wings are a lot cheaper than in Sarawak (RM2 per piece).

So, after that rather bland meal which I paid RM7 or RM8 for (I realized I could have been overcharged by RM1 when I got to my car but hey, not worth my time to argue about it), I headed up to Kinabalu Park…

Photos taken along the way to Kundasang (from Kudat via Kota Belud):

This stretch of road from Kudat to Kota Belud was really bad! It was ridden with pot holes and so uneven I thought my wheels were going to fly off! Many landslips too, especially where there’s a river or stream running right under and across the road. I believe it’s Jalan Langkon? After that bone shaking experience (not just a short stretch of bumpy road mind you, but a few kilometres!), I actually made up my mind not to ever travel by road Kudat again. Not unless I’m in a 4x4! LOL Okay maybe I’m exaggerating a little but it was pretty bad. Look at the photos yourself!

Ahh, a good road at last!!

Beautiful scenery along KB-Ranau road. Just ignore those ugly power lines. :P

Weather not ideal for taking photos but just look at that scenery!

Made a quick stop here to take some photos. Such a quiet road. Really enjoyed the drive up. So scenic! Only thing jarring in the photos are trash left behind by other road users. Boo!

Arrived in Kundasang around noon, greeted by the rain!

Wooden cabin at Merlin Resort.

The wooden cabins at Merlin Resort, situated on a hill slope just off the main road. I wouldn’t call this place a resort though. A resort gives the impression that it has a beautifully landscaped garden, full client services and other resort facilities. This place has none of that. What it does have however, are cheap, individual wooden cabins at only RM30-RM50 per unit per night.

The left photo shows a plant called kinchiam. The buds are harvested and eaten like a vegetable before they blossom into big yellow flowers.

Merlin overlooks vegetable farms and beautiful valleys. On a clear day, distant hills and mountains can clearly be seen.

I saw some farm workers carry these big boxes of packed vegetables up from the gardens so I went down to take a look. They’re chinese cabbage or bok-choy. I suppose they’re all packed up and ready to be transported to the market.

Oh look at those lettuce heads. They seem to be the “rejected” ones. Maybe they’re too old, deemed unsuitable for the market? Yum, wish I could have bought one or two, fresh from the garden!

After visiting Kinabalu Park, I ordered some take away and headed back to my cabin. Was eating outside while enjoying the view when this small friendly dog showed up looking for scraps. It had very nice fur so I petted it and it rolled over, inviting me to rub its tummy. Then I saw them, FLEAS! Yikes… I bolted right up and went inside, didn’t fancy fleas in my cabin! LOL

Will post photos taken in Kinabalu Park and the mountain garden in the next entry in this series…

Previous entries in this series:
- Kudat:
- Simpang Mengayau:
- Kota Kinabalu to Kudat:
- Rungus Longhouse, Kudat:

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